29 April 2012

How Will They Know That I'm a Christian [Part 2]



1 Peter 2:1-3

The word of God is a beautiful and wonderful joy in the life of the redeemed. THE BIBLE IS DESCRIBED AS BEING.........Pure The words of the LORD are pure words...” Ps 12:6. True “Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love. The sum of your word is truth...” Ps 119:159-160. Perfect “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;” Ps 19:7. Living and powerful “For the word of God is living and active,.....” Heb 4:12. Profitable for salvation “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim 3:15. Without error and for our instruction “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2 Tim 3:16. The word of God is a beautiful thing in the hands of a redeemed child of God! So let me ask you this morning! Do you truly desire Christ and His beautiful word? The answer to that question can be found by how much time you spend in the word of God. Your devotion to the scriptures should be your passion and deepest longing as we await His call home. Let me ask you......How much time is devoted to reading this book as it compares to maybe.... 
  • Your TV time
  • Internet time [Facebook]
  • Work
  • Social time
  • Me time
  • Hobbies
John Piper said these words “Christian living means living on the Word of God. We live on the Word of God. Day by day, the written Word of God in the Bible is the means of our relation to Christ. We fellowship with Christ by knowing him in the written Word. We talk to him on the basis of what we know of him from the written Word. We hear him speak to us through what he has shown us of his character and purpose in the written Word. Moment by moment, our vital union with Christ, experientially, is sustained and shaped and carried by the Word of God."

Let me give you a visual of what it looks like to desire God’s word as a Christian in Asia. David Platt on his trip to underground churches in Asia writes this in his book “Radical” about the love the people have for the word of God. He writes, ...“Imagine all the blinds closed on the windows of a dimly lit room. Twenty leaders from different churches in the area sat in a circle on the floor with their Bibles open. Some of them had sweat on their foreheads after walking for miles to get there. Others were dirty from the dust in the villages from which they had set out on bikes early that morning. They had gathered in secret. They had intentionally come to this place at different times throughout the morning so as not to draw attention to the meeting that was occurring. They lived in a country in Asia where it is illegal for them to gather like this. If caught, they could lose their land, their jobs, their families, or their lives.... On my first day with these believers, they simply asked me to lead a Bible study. "Please meet us tomorrow at two o'clock in the afternoon.” So I put some thoughts together for a short Bible study and went to the designated location.... I don't remember when we started, but I do remember that eight hours later we were still going strong. We would study one passage, and then they would ask about another. This would lead to another topic, then to another, and by the end of the day, our conversation had ranged from dreams and visions to tongues and the Trinity. It was late in the evening, and they wanted to continue studying, but they needed to get back to their homes. So they asked the two main church leaders and me, "Can we meet again tomorrow?" I said, "I would be glad to. Shall we meet at the same time?" They responded, "No, we want to start early in the morning." I said, "Okay. How long would you like to study?" They replied, "All day." Thus began a process in which, over the next ten days, for eight to twelve hours a day, we would gather to study God's Word. They were hungry. On that second day I introduced these relatively new believers to the story of Nehemiah. I gave them the background and history of this Bible book and showed them in Nehemiah 8 the importance of God's Word. Afterward we took a short break, and I saw the leaders talking intently about something in small groups. A few minutes later one of them approached me. "We have never learned any of this truth before, and we want to learn more," she said. Then she dropped the bomb. "Would you be willing to teach us about all the books of the Old Testament while you are here?" I laughed. Smiling, I said, "All of the Old Testament? That would take a long time." By this time others were joining in the conversation, and they said, "We will do whatever it takes. Most of us are farmers, and we work all day, but we will leave our fields unattended for the next couple of weeks if we can learn the Old Testament." So that's what we did. The next day I walked them through an overview of Old Testament history. Then we started in Genesis, and in the days that followed, we plowed through the highlights and main themes of every Old Testament book. Imagine teaching the Song of Songs to a group of Asian believers, many of whom have never read the book before, and just praying that they don't ask questions! On the next-to-last day, we finished Malachi. I had twelve more hours to teach, and I had no clue what to say. Once you've taught Habakkuk, what else is there to cover? So the last day I started teaching on a random subject. But within an hour I was interrupted by one of the leaders. "We have a problem," he said. Worried that I had said something wrong, I responded, "What is the matter?" He replied, "You have taught us the Old Testament, but you have not taught us the New Testament. I smiled, but he was serious. "We would like to learn the New Testament today," he said. As all the other leaders across the room nodded, I had no choice. For the next eleven hours, we walked briskly from Matthew to Revelation.

Why are these people so adamant about learning the scriptures? They desired Christ above comfort...wealth and pleasures of this world. [I’ll explain later this truth when we close] They desired to know the One that saved their wretched souls from the eternal flame. They desired to truly worship God by what the scriptures teach about Him and His beauty.

SEE! A CHILD OF GOD ......Delights in the word but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Ps 1:2. Desire the word above all else I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.” Job 23:12. Longs for and finds comfort in the word “My eyes long for your promise; I ask, "When will you comfort me?" Ps 119:82. Rejoices in the word “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart...” Jer 15:16. Obeys the wordI have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.” John 17:6. We come to a passage of scripture that speaks to the heart of a genuine Christian as they grow more and more into the image of the Son! We find 5 wonderful truths in this portion of Peter’s letter to Christians who are under heavy persecution by the religious haters of Jesus Christ. Who only had each other and the precious words of our LORD to keep them going?


1. THE WORD OF GOD HELPS THE CHILD OF GOD TO REMEMBER HIS OR HERS LIFE’S SOURCE (V23-v25)

“therefore” which refers back to why he writes what he writes here in [v1-v3]  in [v23-v25] The living and enduring word will always outlast everything on this earth. The word of God is the source of salvation and life and promises. It transforms the heart to create a new one to love, honor and obey. Peter was reminding the believers that the word of God is the ongoing commitment that God has promised His sanctified children. Isaiah wrote these words "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. “ Isa 55:10-11. A child of God can always read the word and find where they came from and where He is leading them.


2. THE WORD OF GOD HELPS THE CHILD OF GOD TO ELIMINATE SIN FROM HIS OR HER LIFE (V1; V3)

“putting aside” which means to strip off your soiled cloths or to cut off! Why? Because if we don’t! Sin hinders our desire for the Word. Striving to eliminate sin is a prerequisite to a sustaining and lasting desire for the word of God. Paul wrote “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph 4:22-24. The more were in the word the harder it is for sin to penetrate or breach the walls of your life. The busier you are in His word the less chance you have to stop and ponder temptation and sin.


3. THE WORD OF GOD HELPS THE CHILD OF GOD TO ADMIT HIS OR HER NEED FOR GOD’S TRUTH (V2)

“as newborn babies” which could literally mean “born just now” What is the first thing a new born baby wants? FOOD! The newborns desperate cry for milk is God’s design which corresponds to their greatest need of survival. Now take the newly transformed man or woman who has been saved by His grace! What do they want when they are born? FOOD....more of Jesus....more intimacy with the One who saved our souls. God designed infants to cry out for nourishment in the same way He designed you me to desire or cry out for His word. Why? Because it molds, shapes us, comforts us and satisfies our deepest longings. Why is the word so important? Peter says its “pure” which means “unadulterated, or uncontaminatedAs John MacArthur said “believers are to crave what is unmixed and pure, that provides real sustenance, namely the pure milk of the word.”


4. THE WORD OF GOD HELPS THE CHILD OF GOD TO PURSUE SPIRITUAL GROWTH (V2)

“you may grow thereby” which mean “ it may grow you” The word of God it’s so powerful it can nothing but change you into what He called you too. A born again Christian who desires nothing more than Christ! Peter used the same word to close his second letter! “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18. The Apostle Paul said the word of God is the way a Christian matures. 2 Cor 3:18 says “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. How? Through His word! Genuine spiritual growth will always be accompanied by a desire to be satisfied with nothing else other than the word of God.


5. THE WORD OF GOD HELPS THE CHILD OF GOD TO SURVEY HIS OR HER BLESSINGS (V3)

“Lord is gracious” as the Psalmist said “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” As children of God we should daily survey the blessings of His salvation and grace. Survey the times of answered prayer, the times He has touched our lives with kindness and mercy. Have you ever came to a passage of scripture and just melted under the weight of His grace in your life? Think about what Paul wrote to the church of believers in Gal 1:-4 “Paul, an apostle--not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-- and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” His kindness goes beyond our comprehension but He has revealed or reflected his love through His word so that we find rest and comfort in a troubled world. He has given us His word so that we know without a shadow of doubt that the Lord is gracious.

Let’s go back to the story about the churches in Asia.........Why were those people in Asia so adamant about learning the scriptures? Why did they desire the pure milk of the word? Answer! They desired Christ above comfort...wealth and pleasures of this world. What do I mean by that?..........in David Platt's  book also went on to say “Just imagine going to a worship gathering in one of those house churches. Not an all-day training in the Word. Just a normal three-hour worship service late in the evening. The Asian believer who is taking you give you the instructions. "Put on dark pants and a jacket with a hood on it. We will put you in the back of our car and drive you into the village. Please keep your hood on and your face down." When you arrive in the village under the cover of night, another Asian believer meets you at the door of the car. "Follow Me," he says. With your hood over your head, you crawl out of the car, keeping your face toward the ground. You begin to walk with your eyes fixed on the feet of the man in front of you as he leads you down a long and winding path with a small flashlight. You hear more and more footsteps around you as you progress down the trail. Then finally you round the corner and walk into a small room. Despite its size, sixty believers have crammed into it. They are all ages, from precious little girls to seventy-year-old men. They are sitting either on the floor on or small stools, lined shoulder to shoulder, huddled together with their Bibles in their laps. The roof is low, and one light bulb dangles from the middle of the ceiling as the sole source of illumination. No sound system. No band. No guitar. No entertainment. No cushioned chairs. No heated or air-conditioned building. Nothing but the people of God and the Word of God. And strangely, that's enough. God's Word is enough for millions of believers who gather in house churches just like this one. His Word is enough for millions of other believers who huddle in African jungles, South American rain forests, and Middle Eastern cities.................. [And then, David Platt asks the penetrating question] But is his Word enough for us?"


So, I ask you as a pastor and as a brother in Christ this morning......."Is His Word enough for you?" How will they know that I'm a child of God? By your passion and desire for the truth found in His word.

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